How Do I Help When My Child is Excluded?


Published:

Question: My 8-year-old daughter Eliana was devastated last year when valentine cards and gifts were flying around her classroom, and she only received one. She is already dreading the upcoming Valentine's Day, which may be a repetition of last year. Is there anything we can do to help?

Answer: We all take pleasure in the joys of Valentine's Day, but you remind us that some children experience this day painfully rather than pleasurably. Understanding the basis for your daughter's isolation on this day will provide the tools to help her.

Why children may not receive valentines

It's safe to assume the particular situation in which Eliana is not receiving valentines reflects a broader pattern. She may focus particularly on this day since it receives so much attention, but the reasons she does not receive valentine cards or gifts do not reside in Valentine's Day. What are some common reasons a child is shunned?

A child may be socially awkward, perhaps even slightly off-putting to friends. For example, a child may have trouble respecting others' space or say things other children find perplexing or even a bit odd. Children often pull back from a socially awkward child, not because they wish to hurt a child's feelings, but because something about the child makes them feel uncomfortable.

Some children are socially capable when they are in a comfortable situation, but may be shy and/or anxious and reluctant to readily engage in usual classroom social life. As a result, other children might not think about including them but are not actively shunning them.

When a child is unpleasant to others, either inadvertently or with awareness and intent, classmates just notice and care about how they themselves are being treated and likely do not understand that the unpleasant child may be suffering inside.

Bullying may be suspected when one or several children are harassing a child. Eliana is not receiving valentines from many children, so it is unlikely she is being bullied.

Listen and empathize

The first step is to hear Eliana out. Perhaps she will share her worries about how the day will go, her anticipated embarrassment or her gripes about her classmates. Simply acknowledging her feelings and pain will help her the most.

You may want to ease her pain by sharing that you had similar experiences (if that is the case) and that they did not last forever. Also consider pointing out that she is not the only child in the class who may be disappointed in her valentines, or remind her that she has many friends in the neighborhood. Offer these reassurances carefully and as a small part of your response because otherwise Eliana might feel as if you cannot tolerate or accept her painful feelings. Hugs and expressions of your wishes that things were different will be the most supportive ways to comfort her.

Address possible causes

Another way to help Eliana is more complex and emotionally difficult. If she is shy, socially awkward or acting in a negative or provocative way with her peers, she has some responsibility for her social situation. Each possible reason poses different challenges for her and you.

If your daughter is shy, we certainly do not want her to feel that there is anything wrong with being that way. There isn't. Yet the inescapable, no-fault reality is that her shyness affects how others respond to her. Gently, lovingly and gradually bringing this issue to her attention over time can provide her with the motivation and empowerment to reach out socially. Even if she cannot, or chooses not to make that great effort, she will better understand that others are not being mean, that she is not disliked or unlikeable, but that rather she is just not part of the social mix.

The situation is different for a child who aggravates friends. It's particularly important for that child to understand that she is provoking her isolation. Many children with this problem will reject this reality because they often have trouble accepting their role in producing such undesirable situations, and they often blame others.

Socially awkward children pose the greatest challenge for parents because they are often limited in their ability to change or even understand why they can't connect with others. Yet they also need to understand, over a long period of time and with careful discussion, that their abilities and social capacities are different than those of many children in the classroom. It is kinder to gradually introduce these children to their differences than to allow them to continue to suffer in confusion as the isolation and negativity from their peers continue over the years.

It is painful for loving parents to see their child being rejected. However, life is filled with experiences that don't go well, and childhood is the time to learn how to deal with pain and disappointment. With your help, Eliana will come through this stronger, more realistic and in a better position to face the coming years.  n

The Lucy Daniels Center is a nonprofit agency in Cary that promotes the health and well-being of children and families. To submit a question, please email editorial@carolinaparent.com. This month's question may be a composite or illustration of a parent's concerns.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Taming Thumb-Sucking in an Older Child

How to help kids ages 6-10 break that thumb-sucking habit.

Explore Ski Resorts in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia

Plan a family fun getaway within driving distance to ski, snowboard and tube.

When Children Hear Horror Stories on the News

How do you nurture a children's confidence in a safe world even when they are exposed to disturbing news.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2017

Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a nature-themed fairy tale and build a fairy home. Ages 2-10. Register online. Choose course #200057.

Cost: $3/child

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Chase away the winter blues with a hike through the winter garden. After the walk, warm up inside with a book and winter craft. Meet at the visitor center. Ages 3-12. Register online.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Hear the old-time folk band based in Raleigh that plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other instruments, including the saw. Free tickets for the concert are distributed while they last beginning at...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 3-5 enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Teens in grades 6-10 read, create and take on challenges.  March is the month of movie release parties, including "Logan" and "The Beauty and the Beast." Build circuits and...

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

You will be looking out your window when something wonderful comes your way. You will want to keep him. You and your alien will strike up a fabulous friendship and all will go well. Until bedtime....

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Camp S.W.A.G. (Students With Ambitions & Goals) will be hosting a series of free Girls' Group Mentoring Seminars open to all middle and high school girls 13-19 years of age. Register...

Cost: Free

Where:
West Regional Library
4000 Louis Stephens Dr.
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Sponsor: Camp S.W.A.G. (Students With Ambitions & Goals)
Telephone: 919-443-5866
Contact Name: Sherry Pulcher
Website »

More information

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a parade at 7 p.m., followed by live entertainment at area venues. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
CCB Plaza
201 Corcoran St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Mardi Gras
Contact Name: Kathy Violette
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore colonial life for kids and their families during the Revolutionary War. Ages 6-9. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-807-7988
Website »

More information

Join others for an easy paced hike around the greenway. Ages 3 and younger; older siblings, strollers and leashed pets welcome. Register online. Choose course #199060.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover nature with a story, followed by outdoor, hands-on nature exploration and a craft. Meet at the Beech Shelter. Ages 2–5. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

The library's Teen Leadership Corps hosts an opportunity for kids of all ages to come build something special with Lego and Duplo bricks, and play games to improve reading and math skills.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Create a barrel necklace. Ages 12 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $22.50 plus $8 materials fee

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris St.
Durham , NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
Website »

More information

Adam Savage, co-host of the hit TV show "Mythbusters," and Michael Stevens, creator of award-winning YouTube Channel “Vsauce,” can’t wait to unleash their collective...

Cost: $39.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn what choices folks made in North Carolina before and during the Revolutionary War. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join others on an easy-paced hike around the park to explore what's happening in nature. Ages 5 and younger. Register online. Choose course #200087

Cost: Free

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a craft, activity and a guided walk along the greenway. Ages 2-6.  Register online. Choose course #199101.

Cost: $3

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Enjoy auditioned choral students from Durham Public Schools performing a wide variety of music. The show includes both choral and choreographed numbers. This is the 37th year of this musical...

Cost: $12-$35

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durha, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Dig In to community, healthy food access and learning. The 8th Annual Dig In informs adults about how to start and maintain community, school and child care gardens, along with local trends in...

Cost: $15 early bird registration; $25 regular rate

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Advocates for Health in Action (AHA)
Telephone: 919-210-0310
Contact Name: Michele McKinley
Website »

More information

Join bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Kids learn how to make a beaded wind chime  Best suited for ages 3 and older  (though some of the little ones might need a little more parental assistance). Register online. This class...

Cost: free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919-460-7747
Contact Name: Gretchen
Website »

More information

Enjoy demonstrations, youth safety preparedness activities, solar cooking and more. Register online.  

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Paul AME Church
402 W. Edenton St
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Youth Exploration Services, PreparednessMojo Media & Triangle Tribune
Telephone: 919-832-2709
Contact Name: Flo Avery
Website »

More information

Make your own candle.

Cost: Free. Suggested donation of $1/person.

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Stagville
Telephone: 919-620-0120
Website »

More information

Families enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the history of pigs in North Carolina and cast your vote for what you think is the best kind of pork barbecue. All ages with adult. Registration required.

Cost: $5/family

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy the story about hardworking trucks that get ready to say goodnight.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Durham Bulls fans can take batting practice on the field, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the DBAP and photo opportunities with Wool E. Bull, purchase single-game tickets at the ballpark and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
409 Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about what lives in a vernal pool. Peek into the ponds with dip nets, meet live critters, and learn about the wonders and mysteries of life in this environment. Ages 6 and older with adult....

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolia Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3370
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take part in a fun family-friendly scavenger hunt to look for things found around the preserve in winter. Warm up inside after the hunt with a cup of hot cocoa and a craft. Ages 5 and older with...

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about the interesting life cycle of these elusive amphibians, see some up close, then head out to search the temporary wetlands along the trail for eggs, larvae and adults.  Register...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Seven delightful stories come to life in a music revue performed by Theatreworks USA. Books featured in the show include "Teacher from the Black Lagoon," "Dogzilla,"...

Cost: $12/person

Where:
Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
View map »


Sponsor: NC State LIVE
Telephone: 919-515-1100
Contact Name: Mark Tulbert
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

GPS [Go. Play. See]

GPS, soon to be replaced by The Triangle Go-To Guide, connects you to all the Triangle has to offer, from museum expansions to new parks and schools to youth sports and family fun. Plus, discover our 2016 Readers' Favorites.

Education Guide

The 2016-17 Education Guide offers 643 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

The Triangle Go-To Guide will replace the GPS in 2017 and continue to connect you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.